Trichotillomania is a disorder where children or adults habitually pull out hair from their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, arms, legs or anywhere else on the body. In less severe cases, you may find your child sitting still – watching TV, studying, reading a book – and their idle hands will begin to pull their hair out. In more serious case,s children may pull out hair consciously despite the pain. What in the world would cause this, you ask? Well, when a toddler or a baby pulls hair, it’s usually when they are stressed, upset, crying or uncomfortable. Their way of self soothing, or distracting themselves from their discomfort is through hair pulling.
As a parent, Trichotillomania can be very stressful. Thankfully it can be relatively simple to stop. You should be able to prevent trichotillomania in children and in infants by simply engaging them in an activity at a time when they would normally pull out hair. In other words, don’t leave their hands unoccupied. Distraction techniques and busy activities are great. For ideas, read: Itchy Irritated Skin, Scratching Little Fingers- Part Two: Distraction Techniques.
But at night-time, it can be much more difficult. This best option to prevent bedtime hair pulling is with mittens. Mittens will simply prevent infants and children from being able to grasp their hair and pull it out. In cases where mittens are brightly colored or have interesting designs, they can serve as a great distraction from hair pulling as well. The most efficient mittens for hair pulling are made of silk as the smooth, silky fabric will prevent children from being able to grab hold of their hair and pull it out – the hair will just slip right through their grasp.
ScratchMeNot scratch mitten sleeves are excellent at preventing babies and toddlers from pulling hair. These clever mittens were created for children with eczema, but work just as well for hair pulling, as well as preventing scratching from itchy post surgery stitches and poison ivy. They’ve been known to put an end to thumb sucking too. They have a silk outer mitten and have stretchy long sleeves that can fit over the shoulders like a cardigan, making them very difficult for children to remove. You can fold the mitten open for play and closed for protection.
These mitten sleeves come in two styles:
- Scratch Mitten CLASSIC style – a cotton/bamboo/spandex blended fabric
- Scratch Mittens COTTON style – a 100% cotton fabric
Are you crafty? Then why not make your own protective mittens? Socks work well for this, but can be pulled off rather easily. It’s best to add something to the sock to tie them onto the wrist. You’ll also need a very soft material for the sock-mittens and if you can find silk, even better. But silk socks, might be a bit hard to find.
Does your little one have Trichotillomania? What have you found works best for your family to prevent hair pulling?